Who Is Droupadi Murmu, the NDA's Pick for the Upcoming Presidential Polls?

Droupadi Murmu's name was also doing the rounds for the BJP's likely choice for the top constitutional post in 2017.

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(This story was published on 22 June 2022 and is being republished ahead of the elections to the office of the President of India to be held on 18 July.)

After rounds of meetings and perusing several names, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance on Tuesday, 21 June, finally announced Droupadi Murmu as its presidential candidate for the upcoming elections.

Incidentally, Murmu's name was also doing the rounds for the BJP's likely choice for the top constitutional post in 2017, when President Pranab Mukherjee was set to leave Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Murmu is up against Yashwant Sinha, a former Union Minister, and the joint Opposition's candidate for the polls.

If elected, Murmu, who is known as the first woman governor of Jharkhand, will also become the first person from a tribal community to occupy the chair of the president.

From being a teacher to entering into politics and serving as a governor of a state, the 64-year-old politician's journey is interesting to look at.


Personal Life

Hailing from the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, Murmu belongs to the Santhal tribe.

Droupadi Murmu graduated from Rama Devi Women's College in Bhubaneswar with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She served as a junior assistant in the Odisha irrigation and power department, and later as an honorary assistant professor at Shri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research, Rairangpur before entering politics in 1997.

Murmu has witnessed many ups and downs in her personal life, having lost her husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, and her two sons. She has one daughter, Itishree Murmu, who is married.

Political Journey

Considered soft-spoken and affable, the leader has held various positions in the party, rising through the ranks, and was a minister in the state when the BJP was in alliance with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Murmu's political career began in 1997, when she was elected councillor for the Rairangpur district of Odisha. She also served as the vice-president and later the president of BJP’s Scheduled Tribes Morcha during this time and later got elected as a legislator from Rairangpur constituency in 2000.

She held ministerial posts in the Department of Transport and Commerce, as well as Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, in the Naveen Patnaik-led government from 2000 to 2004.

The Odisha Legislative Assembly honoured her with the 'Nilakantha Award' for best MLA in 2007.

Murmu held on to her Assembly seat in 2009 when the BJD had snapped ties with the BJP weeks ahead of the state elections, which were swept by CM Patnaik's party.

Murmu was elected as the district president of Mayurbhanj (West) unit of the BJP in 2010 and re-elected in 2013. She was also named as a member of the BJP National Executive (ST Morcha) the same year.

She also wears the crown of being the first woman from Odisha to be named governor of a state in India.

BJP's Political Messaging

As a tribal woman candidate of the ruling combine, her candidature may persuade many regional parties, not aligned to either the NDA or the Opposition, to back her, BJP sources said. Even some Opposition parties will not be seen to be opposing her, they added.

With her nomination, the BJP is sending out a significant political message after elevating a Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind, to the top post five years back.

Voting for the next president will be held on 18 July, while the counting of votes will be held on 21 July, as per the Election Commission.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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